To be an average sized fish in a big pond or a big fish in a pond which produces disappointment on a perennial basis, that is the question. It goes something like that anyway.
Big-name players refusing to sit on the bench purely for the sake of collecting major trophies they’ve hardly contributed towards is nothing new. Part of the reason Alexis Sanchez departed Barcelona this summer was due to the fact that he didn’t want to dwindle as a backup option whilst the likes of £75 million man Luis Suarez and the ever-irresistible Lionel Messi stole the show.
The reserve option
The same can be argued as an overriding factor in Juan Mata’s controversial switch between Chelsea and Manchester United last January. Xabi Alonso’s switch to Bayern Munich, Joleon Lescott’s departure from Manchester City, Alvaro Morata’s move to Juventus… the list goes on.
There’s a case to be made for either solution in such circumstances. For some the prospect of sacrificing playing time for a winner’s medal of one sort or another is unthinkable. Others don’t mind acting in a reserve capacity so long as they can boast a trophy cabinet which is regularly amended.
Loic Remy's big move
At the moment it remains to be seen which category Chelsea’s Loic Remy falls into. The France international came close to moving to Liverpool in the summer, where he would undoubtedly have been the main man in Daniel Sturridge’s injury-enforced absence, but a murky, still-to-be-resolved medical issue scuppered the deal at the eleventh hour.
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Instead he moved to work within the folds of Jose Mourinho’s currently all-conquering Blues - tough luck, I know. At the time it’s safe to assume that he was well aware he’d find it extremely difficult to make himself No.1 striker, what with Diego Costa having made his own Chelsea move in July.
Yet he hedged his bets anyway, probably because he’d been starved of any sort of success in the Premier League until that time. There was another side who were chasing his signature in the summer however, and one that arguably would have given him an ideal balance between being the main man and having a shot at genuine glory.
Alongside Brendan Rodgers and Mourinho, who had contrasting plans for Remy, Arsene Wenger was a registered admirer, and given the fact Olivier Giroud has been missing for virtually the entirety of the season he will be kicking himself that he wasn’t more aggressive.
Danny Welbeck and Alexis Sanchez were purchased over the course of the summer, the latter having excelled concerning his goals-to-games ratio. It’s the former, though, who was meant to be steering the Gunners’ ship in the direction of the Premier League title via his prowess in the opponents’ box, and at the moment he seems incapable of doing so.
In this respect Remy would have been the ideal alternative and, what’s more, he might well have found life in north London more enjoyable than it is in then west of the capital. Mourinho seems to have marked veteran forward Didier Drogba as his preferred option when Costa is unavailable. At the very least Remy has far more work to do beating the Ivorian to the punch than he might have considered.
Arsenal over Chelsea
As such his appearances in the Premier League this season amount to just six matches. That’s six times he’s been seen strutting his stuff in the blue of Chelsea; the man who bagged 14 goals in 26 matches last term for a struggling Newcastle United.
Legend or no it’s hard to validate Mourinho’s decision to opt for Drogba ahead of Remy, and that’s when superstar Costa - whose form would be enough to keep even the very best frontmen confined to the substitutes’ bench - is out of the equation. The Special One, rightly or wrongly, isn’t going to give this summer’s buy - Remy, not Costa - the minutes his talent deserves, it’s as simple as that.
At Arsenal there would have been no such quandary. He might not have been part of a squad steadily steamrollering their way to the Premier League title and cruising in Europe, but he would have been part of the starting XI more often than he was part of the sub lineup.
Now, just as Sanchez was, he’s an average sized fish in a pond where his competitors are bigger than him. Had he ended up a Gunner he would have been a big fish in a pond not nearly as bountiful, but at least he’d have the chance to be the catch of the day.